March 7, 2014
The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) and the Transgender Law Center (TLC) express disappointment in the final standards published today by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to address the severe problem of sexual abuse in immigration detention. While the final standards contain some valuable provisions, they fall short of the minimum steps needed to address the ongoing crisis of sexual abuse in immigration detention. In particular, the standards–which are, in key respects, weaker than those adopted by the Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2012 for prisons and jails–lack critical protections for transgender immigrants, who are among the most highly vulnerable to sexual abuse.
“The rules released by DHS today are not adequate to protect the safety of tens of thousands of real people who are at risk in detention every day,” said NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling. “While NCTE will work with our allies to see that the positive steps that did make it into the DHS rules are fully implemented, far more needs to be done to reform and ultimately end mass detention.”
Olga Tomchin, Soros Justice Fellow at the Transgender Law Center said, “It is a cruel irony that trans immigrants who flee persecution and believe they will be safe in the U.S. are then often met with state violence and further retraumatized by horrific treatment based on their trans status.”
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March 4, 2013
Ana-Haydee Urda (left front) in the 2012 rally against private prisons sponsored by United Methodist Women and the United Methodist Task Force on Immigration. A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey.
Last week, the National Center for Transgender Equality, with our partners at Just Detention International led advocacy efforts urging Secretary Napolitano and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to strengthen protections against sexual abuse of LGBT people and people with intersex conditions in immigration detention. In addition to organizing over 800 individual comments and dozens of organizational comments, NCTE joined eight other national LGBT and allied groups in filing over 30 pages of public comments on the proposed regulations that address this problem, which is part of the implementation of the Prison Rape Elimination Act.
Sexual abuse of LGBT people and people with intersex conditions violates their basic human rights. The U.S. government has an obligation to provide safe and humane conditions for people in confinement. Not doing so impedes detainee’s ability to obtain lawful immigration status when eligible and to successfully adjust back into the community. Additionally, public health considerations like the widespread transmission of HIV and the growing rates of depression, anxiety and suicide ideation among immigration detainees demand swift action by the Department of Homeland Security.
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